Struggles with Insanity

While my wife sleeps, I slink into her study and borrow her computer. She won’t mind, unless I spend too much time, robbing her of the opportunity to commence her morning ritual of examining the outcome of the world’s overnight gyrations. So I’ll be brief. More or less.

I watched bits and pieces of the Oscars last night, an exceedingly rare engagement for me. I mean, I haven’t watched the Oscars in years and years and years. Oh, I might flip through the channels and pause, but I almost never spent thirty or forty minutes watching them, as I did last night. My time wasn’t wasted, but neither was it invested in something that has the potential of changing my life. But the time I spent watching the actors and directors and cinematographers and such was informative. I learned that many of them either were deeply moved by their selection to receive an Oscar or they are, indeed, polished actors. Some of them shed tears. Perhaps the tears were real, perhaps they were formed in the eyes of alligators. They looked real. Well, some of them did. Lady Gaga, a woman about whom I know very little yet about whom I tend to be deeply judgmental (and not in a particularly positive way), seemed to have hired an alligator to manufacture her tears. Others seemed genuinely overcome with emotion; I prefer their stunned disbelief to overly-dramatic expressions that, in my perception, seem wooden and deeply artificial.

Yet who am I to judge? These are people who have been judged by their peers, the latter of whom have determined their performances to be worthy of lavish recognition. Wouldn’t I be overcome if my peers, whoever they are, heaped praise on me? Wouldn’t I be overwhelmed to be set upon a pedestal and to have my work identified as the product of a genius? Well of course I would. Not gonna happen, but I’d be astounded and deliriously happy, I think. But, then, I think…would it mean more for my peers to lavish praise on me or would I find my intended audience a more satisfying judge? I guess both would be meaningful in their own ways.

It’s a little late for me to go to film school. I’m not going to learn screen-writing in my old age. I doubt I’ll even finish a novel. Hell, a completed short story would be a stunning accomplishment for me. Who reads short stories? Who pays attention to those brief excursions into a writer’s mind that explore odd and emotionally malformed destinations? I think a new association is in order: The International Association of Deviant Short Story  Consumers.   It could be Short Story Deviant Consumers.

If there is justice in the world, my computer may be repaired and ready for use later today. In the absence of justice, I may sit in my recliner and complain about life in the computer desert. I could complain about other things. Health issues. Mental issues. The relativity of poverty. The problems with absolute wealth. The general unfairness of time and the fact that it behaves more and more like an hourglass the later in life it is examined.

My mind is racing through a rabbit warren this morning and I can’t seem to corral it. There are too many things to think about and not enough depth in my brain to allow them adequate exploration. Too much to think about. Too little meat on my mental bones. I’m a little more like a skeleton this morning than I was yesterday. Mentally, I mean. Physically, too, though. I weighed myself this morning and discovered I’ve lost three more pounds, though I don’t know where they went. I suspect they’re resting at the bottom of the rabbit warren, engaged in conversation with a forest of bones. The bones speak, of course, because they are suspended from strings tied to the ceilings of the rabbits’ subterranean den and the bones click against one another as rabbits scurry by, creating breezes that rattle what I’ll call bone-chimes. I know, you’re thinking the writer has lost his mind. But it’s not that; it’s just that the images in my brain haven’t been properly cataloged and collected to form a rational thought or two.

About that weight loss. I’m okay with it, despite the fact that the doctors aren’t. I prefer a thinner me to a corpulent me. Corpulence doesn’t become me. Well, it does. But I don’t have to like it. If only I could couple my weight loss with a corresponding gain in physical strength and stamina, I would be happier than I am at this very moment. But happiness isn’t the be all end all of our existence, is it? No, something else holds that banner. We just don’t know what it is.

Sanity is overrated. Insanity gives us the opportunity to discard all the unkind, unpleasant, unhappy aspects of existence, replacing them with the sounds of bone-chimes in the bowels of rabbit warrens. Even in that confusion, the existence that stands in for life is a decent alternative.

None of this means, of course, that I’m engaged in struggles with insanity. Instead, it simply means that sanity is an abstract concept that doesn’t lend itself well to “normal” assessment. Sanity and its aberrant twin are artificial notions that hide biases in plain sight. Strange twists that suggest I’m “crazy” are merely tricks to make others uncomfortable. I enjoy misleading. It’s one of the perverse joys of writing.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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